Nikola Jokic scores 42 and outduels Victor Wembanyama in Nuggets' 110-105 win over Spurs

DENVER (AP) — Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic scored 42 points and outdueled Rookie of the Year favorite Victor Wembanyama in Denver’s 110-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night to retake sole possession of first place in the West.

Jokic also grabbed 16 rebounds and had six assists. Wembanyama had 23 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists and nine blocks. Three of Jokic’s baskets came on rare dunks, something he said he had to do facing the sensational rookie.

“He had like 600 blocks tonight, but we got the win,” Jokic said after Denver leap-frogged Oklahoma City atop the Western Conference playoff race.

The Nuggets (53-23) took a half-game lead over Oklahoma City, which lost 109-105 at Philadelphia earlier Tuesday night. The Minnesota Timberwolves (52-23) kept pace with Oklahoma City when they beat Houston 113-106.

Jokic’s hook shot broke a 103-103 tie but Wembanyama’s layup at the other end knotted it up again with a minute remaining.

Michael Porter Jr., who had 15 points and a career-best 16 rebounds, made a 3 with 28 seconds left to put Denver up 108-105 and Wembanyama missed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left but the Spurs burned 10 seconds before Wembanyama fouled Jokic, who sank both free throws with 8 seconds remaining.

The Nuggets had a tough time shaking off the scrappy Spurs, taking a one-point lead into both halftime and the fourth quarter before Denver’s reserves used an 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter while Jokic was grabbing his usual breather on the bench.

Jokic returned with Denver ahead 99-92 but back-to-back 3s by Tre Jones, who had his third career triple-double (10 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists), and Sandro Mamukelashvili tightened it up again, setting up a thrilling finish with Jokic and Wembanyama going at it until the very end.

Even with the Spurs missing Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan and Keldon Johnson, all suffering from foot injuries, San Antonio was no pushover for the Nuggets, who were without point guard Jamal Murray (knee) for a sixth straight game.

Malaki Branham added 24 points for San Antonio, which got double-digit scoring from seven players.

Murray, who’s dealing with right knee soreness and has also been nursing a sprained left ankle and suffering from shin splints, sat out his sixth consecutive game.


Spurs: At New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

Nuggets: At Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.



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